Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-3-1)
The Ravens had a stinker of a performance at home against the Chiefs week 3, a 34-20 loss that was worse than the final score, as the Ravens got 11 points of benefit from their special teams, didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the 4th quarter, and lost the first down rate battle by 14.50%, but, despite that terrible game, the Ravens still rank 7th in the league in first down rate differential at +4.12%. Even more encouraging is the fact that the Ravens have been led by their defense, which was their more questionable side of the ball coming into their season, as their 4th ranked defense (33.63% first down rate allowed) has made up for an offense that actually ranks just 20th in the NFL in first down rate at 37.76%.
The Ravens’ offense will almost definitely be better than that going forward, as they’re obviously more talented than that on paper, so, if their defense continues to play at a high level, the Ravens have a good chance to end up as the top ranked team in the league in first down rate differential again at the end of this season, after leading the league by a wide margin with a +8.87% rate last season (the 49ers were 2nd at +5.29%). Even with their relatively “slow” start to this season, the Ravens still have a +8.64% first down rate differential over their past 16 games, including that loss to the Chiefs and their playoff loss to the Titans last year, which also happen to be their only losses over that 16-game stretch.
Even more impressive, of the Ravens’ 14 wins over that stretch, 12 of them have come by 14 points or more and in total they have a ridiculous +262 point differential over those 16 games, which would be the 4th best differential in a single 16-game season in NFL history if the Ravens had done it across a single season, rather than split between the two. My calculated line suggests this line is about right, favoring the Ravens by 9.5 points in Philadelphia, but that might be giving too much weight to that one loss to Kansas City and not enough weight to the Ravens’ tendency to blow teams out, particularly inferior opponents like the Eagles, who are in especially bad shape this week without injured right tackle Lane Johnson. This is a no confidence pick because we’re not getting real line value with the Ravens, but the Ravens should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.
Baltimore Ravens 34 Philadelphia Eagles 24
Pick against the spread: Baltimore -9.5